Report on the attendance of the Fifty-first Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
(February 26 to March 9, 2007, New York)
Ms Maggie Koong and Ms Clarie Lo represented the Hong Kong Federation of Women at the captioned Meeting in the capacity as nominated members of a NGO designated body. The priority theme of this year's Meeting is "The elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child". As far as representation from Hong Kong is concerned, it is noted that apart from the Women Commission and the Federation, the Caritas group also sent a delegation together with a girl student especially selected to attend the Session.
By way of Background, the CSW is a functional commission of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. It is the principal global policy-making body. Every year, representatives of Member States gather at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide. This year, the CSW meets from February 26 to March 9, 2007.
At the plenary meeting, participants shared experience, practices and views in relation to the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and the girl child. A number of parallel events were organized by UN Missions as well as different NGO Committees on the Status of Women in addition to the main plenary session. Several girls were brought in to some of the parallel sessions (including one hosted by the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns) to voice out their experience on unequal and unfair treatments on girls in their respective countries and cultures e.g. forced/early marriages, deprivation of schooling opportunities, etc. Such helped governmental agencies and voluntary organizations to understand more about the needs of girls and what actions were called for in making policy changes on girl child. Another session on the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality was quite interestingly held.
It is noted that the Chairperson of the HK Women Commission gave a verbal statement on the experience of Hong Kong in applying gender mainstreaming in the elimination of discrimination and violence against women and the girl child on 27 February 2007, at the "interactive expert panel on capacity-building on mainstreaming a gender perspective in the development, implementation and evaluation of national policies and programs for the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child".
Opportunities were also taken to participate in a no. of networking meetings and functions held with women groups and community leaders in New York. Such included:--
(a) A breakfast reception hosted by Mayor Bloomberg of New York at the MacyDepartment store for 300 women leaders to celebrate "Women's History Month" on 1 March 2007.
(b) A networking lunch on 28 February 2007 hosted by the Chairperson of the HK Women Commission with New York women leaders to exchange ideas on the work on promoting women's well-being.The guests who attended the luncheon include Deputy Commissioner of the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence, and Managing Director of the Division for International Business, New York City Commission for the United States, Consular Corps & Protocol.
(c) A tea gathering with the representatives of the Caritas Group from HK. The Caritas Group has been sending delegations to attend the Commission Meeting on a regular basis but now was not sure whether they have sufficient funding to cover next year's event. They expressed interest in the Federation's work and it would be useful to touch base with them prior to future Meetings.
(d) Reception hosted by the Consulate General of Austria on March 8 to celebrate Women's Day.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Through attendance at the Meeting, we were able to distribute pamphlets and other information materials to Delegates to publicize the work of the Federation. Contacts were also made with other women groups in New York and the rest of the world. All these would facilitate future liaison work with those organizations and women leaders.
Ms Maggie Koong
Mrs. Clarie Lo
March 24, 2007, Hong Kong